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Finals footy fever was alive and well at the Sydney Showgrounds in front of 18,312 screaming Bulldogs and NZ Warriors when the razzle dazzle Warriors defeated the Bulldogs by 48-22.
Francis Meli for the Warriors claims a record with 5 tries in the match, the highest ever for a player in a finals match.
The hype of the match before it even started was enough the stir the emotions of any fan. And once play started the game sure lived up to the expectations.
With the tussle continuing right throughout the first half between these two dynamic sides, the Warriors had the upperhand at the break with a lead of 16-4.
Two quick tries to the Bulldogs very early in the second half soon had the Bulldogs all square with the New Zealand side.
With Webb sent to the bin from the Warriors side, the spark seemed to flare from the New Zealand Warriors. They ran rampant, scoring an unbelieveable 32 points in 32 minutes to which the Bulldogs had no answers.
A try in the 70th minute to Utai gave the Bulldogs a glimmer of hope but the night belonged to the NZ Warriors and Francis Meli.
The Bulldogs now wait to see the results of the next two games to see their fate in the finals.
Scorers: BULLDOGS 22 Tries: Vagana, El Masri, O'Meley, Utai Goals: El Masri (3/4) defeated by WARRIORS 48 Tries: Meli 5, Webb 2, Tony, Faumuina Goals: Webb (6/7), Faumuina (1/2)
Saturday 13 Sep 2003 5:30 PM Sydney Showground Crowd - 18,312 Referee: Bill Harrigan Video Referee: Tim Mander
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 - F Meli (Warriors) 2 - S Faumuina (Warriors) 1 - C Toopi (Warriors)
By the clock:
Two sides with a lot of media coverage this week, I'm sure the game will live up to the expectations
0 min: KICK OFF!
3rd min: TRY - Meli for Warriors. The Warriors making good metres and nearly scoring bar for the ball missing the mark of Meli. The Bulldogs run from the 10 metre mark, O'Meley drops the ball and Villasanti comes up with it. Spreading the ball wide, Webb gets a great pass to Meli unmarked on the wing. Webb from the sideline, misses the conversion. Warriors 4-0
7th min: NEWS - El Masri (Bulldogs) carves through the Warriors defence like a hot knife through butter. A 50 metre run stopped by Villasanti. The Bulldogs hot on attack are rewarded with a line drop out. Another mistake by the Bulldogs hands possession to the Warriors
11th min: TRY - Meli for Warriors. Great go forward by the Warriors in their set to get up to their goal line on the fifth. Utai (Bulldogs) looked to made yardage out of the in goal only to be pulled into touch by Fa'afili. The first pass from the scrum and Meli is through the middle and under the posts. Webb from out in front, adds 2 points. Warriors 10-0
15th min: NEWS - Toopi (Warriors) makes a try saving tackle on Vagana after the Bulldogs take the tap for an offside penalty. The Bulldogs with very quick hands spread the ball wide, Toopi puts his body under Vagana's to stop the try. Scrum to the Bulldogs
17th min: NEWS - The Bulldogs with 3 sets make a mistake 4 metres out from their line early in the tackle count. Warriors lead 10-0
25th min: NEWS - Play has settled down with both sides using their sets well. Great defence shown by both sides
28th min: TRY - Vagana for Bulldogs. A charge down on a Jones kick gives the Bulldogs great field position 20 metres out from their line. A penalty to the Bulldogs for the markers not square. Second tackle and Vagana busts through a soft tackle. El Masri from 20 metres out misses the conversion after the ball hits the upright. Warriors 10-4
32nd min: NEWS - Betham (Warriors) makes an error handing the ball to the Bulldogs 20 metres out from their line. A second error by Mason on his second touch and the play breaks down. End to end stuff, great for the vocal crowd. The NZ Warriors hold onto their 10-4 lead
37th min: TRY - Webb for Warriors. Once again big yards being made by the attacking side. Jones slots Webb into a beautiful gap at pace and scores under the posts unmarked. Webb convert his own try from out in front. Warriors 16-4
40th min: NEWS - Jones (Warriors) attempts a field goal right on the break, but misses
HALF TIME: The sort of game you come to expect in the play offs
42nd min: TRY - El Masri for Bulldogs. A solid set by the Bulldogs with simple plays. Fifth tackle option by Anasta kicks the ball high towards the posts. A lot of hands going for the ball, the video ref rules El Masri gets the points. El Masri converts his try from out in front. Warriors 16-10
46th min: NEWS - Webb (Warriors) sent to the bin for a professional foul. A great chase by Webb on Vagana but lay in the tackle longer than he takes to kick
47th min: TRY - O'Meley for Bulldogs. The Warriors defence down to 12 men, and the Bulldogs hot on attack. O'Meley runs a great line off a good ball and gets over without bother. El Masri converts. 16 all
50th min: TRY - Meli for Warriors. Motu Tony just on the field, scoots from dummy half through ordinary defence by the Bulldogs. Tony zips 20 metres up the sideline, offloads to a waiting Meli who gets his hat trick. Faumuina kicking for the sin binned Webb, hooks the ball rather badly and misses. Warriors 20-16
55th min: TRY - Meli for Warriors. A line drop out to the Warriors and set up well by the forwards. Faumuina takes the ball to the defence and offload superbly to a flying Meli who gets past 3 defenders to score under the posts. Warriors 26-16
58th min: TRY - Tony for Warriors. With Webb back from the bin, the Warriors score their third since the break. Tony close to the line wrong foots Sherwin and ducks under Mason to score. Webb from 20 metres in, kicks it wide. Warriors 30-16
62nd min: TRY - Webb for Warriors. The razzle dazzle play by the Warriors is blowing the Bulldogs defence apart. A break by Toopi offloading to Faumuina who in turn offloads to a flying Webb, has the defence stumbling around them. Webb from out in front. converts his own try. Warriors 36-16
65th min: TRY - Faumuina for Warriors. From their own 20 metres line, the Warriors are at it again. Lueluai offloads to Faumuina who has no problems taking off down the field. A dummy throw to Toopi fools what defence is there and Faumuina dots down under the posts. Webb from out in front, adds the 2 points. Warriors 42-16
69th min: TRY - Utai for Bulldogs. A penalty finally helps to give the Bulldogs good field position. Great play by Price to help Utai duck under the defence right on the line. El Masri quickly adds the 2 points. Warriors 42-22
75th min: TRY - Meli for Warriors. Meli scores his 5th try in the game. Smart play by the Warriors and the defence has no answers. Meli gets over the line out wide after some great play by the Warriors. Webb from the sideline, gets the kick. Warriors 48-22
77th min: NEWS - It is confirmed. Meli's 5 tries is an all time record for the most tries scored by a player in a finals match. Well done!
FULL TIME: Well played Warriors